Visual Aesthetics as a Refl ection of the Traumatic Experience of the History: La Reine Margot by Alexandre Dumas and Patrice Chereau

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Anna Stepanova


The article is focused on an image of the history as a traumatic experience of the past and its visual embodiment in the novel “La Reine Margot” by Alexandre Dumas and its similarly-titled film by Patrice Chereau. Based on the concepts of “narrative fetishism” and “work of sorrow” substantiated by Eric Santner, the novel and cinema narratives are analyzed in the context of the historical narrative. The novel by Dumas has the following objects of visualizing the traumatic experience distinguished the event (Bartholomew’s Night), historical space (Paris, the Louvre), the human body in its life manifestations and the image of Providence (fate). It is noted that the visual aesthetics in Dumas’ novel narrative forms the perception of historical trauma within the framework of “narrative fetishism”, creating a romantic image of the history and historical personalities. The key objects of visualization in the film by Chereau are the event of Bartholomew’s Night and the body (in the images of physically and spiritually traumatized characters). Unlike Dumas, who conveyed the memory of the sixteenth century in the light of the romantic nineteenth century, Chereau creates the memory of the twentieth century demonstrating a naturalistic-baroque interpretation of the romantic image of the history. The “narrative fetishism” of the novel gives way to the “work of sorrow” stipulated by the experience of historical trauma in the film.


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Literary studies